Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Tips for Professionals to Find the Right Online Degree

For educators who are considering a graduate degree, I'm a big proponent of exploring your options for getting it online. This guest post will give you a starting point. -Mr. D

Online education is not just a way to earn a degree from wherever you are; for most people, it’s a second chance at education. It allows them to learn while they earn, a benefit that is immensely advantageous because they don’t have to take time off from their profession and risk financial losses and because they can set schedules that are flexible and conducive to both work and study. But if they are to realize the maximum benefit from online education, professionals must take care in selecting the degree that’s right for them and their lifestyle. If not, it’s time, money and effort thrown down the drain.

So as a professional, how do you go about selecting the right online degree? Before you make your decision, ask yourself the following questions:
  • Will it help me further my career? Most people go back to school because they realize the value of a degree in the workplace. A few do it because they feel a sense of accomplishment, but most do it because they want to use it as a rung to climb up the career ladder. Promotions, salary hikes, designation improvements – they’re all based not just on your commitment to your work, but also your level of education and your experience. So whether you’re looking for an internal promotion or a career change, you need to know what degree to pursue to help your cause. Most people prefer an MBA if they’re doing anything related to business - the EMBA option is popular with working professionals as it is designed around their schedule (most classes are on weekends). But in general, it’s best to choose a degree with a major that’s in line with your profession, either the one you’re in or the one you plan to move to.
  • Does it suit my schedule? It’s not as easy as it sounds, balancing work, education, and your personal life. So choose your degree with care, taking into account your class and exam schedules. Ensure that they don’t clash with important events at work and if they’re flexible enough to fit around your work schedule. If you’re really busy at work, you can’t afford to sign up for a degree where your schedule is rigid and you’re forced to attend class even though you’re swamped with work.
  • Will I be able to do justice to the course? When you commit to an education, whether it is online or not, you must give it your best shot. It’s just like any business endeavor or work project where you’re naturally going to put your best foot forward and go all out to ensure success. So enroll yourself only if you’re certain you’re going to be able to do justice to the world of academia rather than treating it like something to do when there is nothing else to do.
  • Can I afford it? While this is not going to be much of a problem for a working professional as for a high school graduate, some courses like the EMBA which are tailored for high level executives are pretty expensive. So if you have to foot the bill for your degree because your employer is not keen on sponsoring you, ensure that you’ve weighed the pros and cons of spending good money on a degree which may or may not reap the rewards you seek.
This guest post is contributed by Anna Miller, who writes on the topic of degrees online. She welcomes your comments at her email id:

Monday, June 28, 2010

Make Online Tests Easily With Free Zoho Challenge

Zoho Challenge is a free, dead-simple online quiz creation tool from the prolific web-based application hub  I've tried other similar apps, but I really like how easy and intuitive this one is.  Everything from initial sign-up (use your Google or Facebook account to save time and effort) to creating questions and quizzes can be done in no time.

To demonstrate the look, functionality and features of the quizzes (not the least of which is being able to embed it directly on a site), I put together a fun little quiz about myself and this site.  If you consider yourself a regular reader, you should easily ace it:

The quiz editor is straightforward; I was able to assemble this example in just a few minutes.  As with most quality online quiz creation applications, you can set time limits, decide who can take the quiz, and much more.

Since it's free and easy to use, it's worth trying out if you're looking for online quiz options.  Check out Zoho Challenge on Twitter to quickly connect with others who are trying it out or using it already.  Finally, here's one educator's take on Zoho Challenge vs. Google Forms.

Not satisfied?  Try 20 Sites to Create Online Quizzes, Polls and Surveys.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Math of Tipping, Tech Hurdles in Schools & More

How To Demoralize A Creative Teacher in One Bureaucratic Step [Inner Education for Inward Educators] - They tell us to use more technology, but only the kinds they like and invest tons of money in (regardless of effectiveness).

15 Additional Practices for Bad Professional Development in Technology [The Innovative Educator] - Spoiler alert: most of them are worst practices for any PD workshop!

WhiteyBoard Stick-Ons Turn Walls into Whiteboards [Lifehacker]

Do You Practice Math When You Leave a Tip? [Wise Bread] - I usually calculate 20% by finding 10% (moving the decimal point one digit to the left), then doubling it.  In fact, I've used that as a first day of school lesson.  But I will usually round the 20% up to the nearest dollar, especially at places I like where the employees rely on tips.

Teachable Moments: The Physics of Bowling [Wired: GeekDad] - Because it's never too early to start learning physics.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Connect with Me at the 2010 #NCSC Next Week

The 2010 National Charter School Conference is next week in Chicago.  I'll be attending (I work for IDEA Public Schools) and would love to connect with any readers out there who will also be at the conference.  If you'll be there, let me know via email, Twitter or Facebook.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Contest: Win $1K For Literacy, Year's Supply of Borden Milk and More

“Elsie the Cow’s Reading Adventures” Art Contest

How to Enter: Entrants must submit a drawing inspired by the theme “Elsie the Cow’s Reading Adventures” showcasing the joy of reading and include images of books, milk and Elsie the Cow.

When to Enter: Opened May 10, 2010 and ends on June 30, 2010.

Prizes: The winning entry will get a $1,000 literacy grant for their local school, or a non-profit organization of choice, as well as a prize package including a year’s supply of Borden Milk, a $50 book-retailer gift card, Borden T-shirt, Elsie the Cow stickers, Borden pencils, Borden growth chart and a certificate from RIF.

Contest Rules: Visit for complete contest rules. Questions can be sent to No purchase necessary.

Eligibility: Open to children ages 6-12 in these cities:

  • Austin
  • Corpus Christi
  • Dallas/Fort Worth
  • Houston
  • Laredo
  • McAllen
  • San Antonio
  • Texarkana
  • Baton Rouge
  • Lafayette
Complete eligibility information can be found at

Fan Elsie on Facebook:

Follow Elsie the Cow on Twitter:

Joy and Triumph on Graduation Day

One of the great benefits of teaching is seeing your kids graduate, whether it be from kindergarten, middle school, high school or college.  Having taught high school students the past few years, their respective graduations have come rather quickly: I've actually attended three in the past month.  Last week, I returned to Boston to see a group of my former students graduate.
I wasn't sure how I would be received.  I certainly had reason to be positive; after all, one of my students had sent me a text specifically to ask if I was coming.  When I said I would be there, she responded: "You made my f-ing life!"  Of course, she didn't censor it like that, giving me an early reminder of how much I missed my Boston students.  Many of them never had trouble expressing themselves in the most direct way possible, a byproduct of the emotional and mental toughness required to survive under challenging circumstances.

My appearance was a surprise to many, including my former colleagues, who greeted me warmly.  The students who had arrived early to help set up the auditorium at Bunker Hill Community College for the ceremony seemed grateful and happy that I had come.  Both students and staff alike seemed genuinely shocked that I had traveled from south Texas to Boston for no other reason than to witness this event and try to reconnect with my former students.  It seemed like a no-brainer to me.

As everyone began to file in for the ceremony, I was excited to talk with many of my kids.  I assured those who would be graduating next year that I would return for their ceremony, including the student who had initially contacted me.  Although she could have graduated this year under the school's unique credit system, she would have only been able to attend a two-year college.  Since that wasn't her goal, she decided to put off graduation until next year.  [Note: If this sounds like a radically different system than any you've heard of, that's because it is.  I'm happy to explain more if anyone is interested.]

She made sure to tell me that, "I still take the bus route you showed me every day," bringing me back to the time when she nearly lost her credits due to truancy.  She would have been set back another year at least, possibly not even finished high school, had she not taken my advice so she could get to school on time every day. 

Many students asked, "Mistah, where's your mohawk?"  While my guitar playing antics seemed to be the thing my former students graduating in the RGV recalled vividly, in Boston my mohawk experiment is clearly what I'll be remembered for most.  "You really helped a lot of students last year," another former student told me.  She and many others (including a few of the graduates) were eager to tell me how much better they had done in math this past year, which made me happy.

The ceremony itself was as powerful and emotional as any I have attended.  Several students spoke, each one recalling the massive obstacles they had overcome to get to that stage.  These were the kinds of things that I'm not sure I could have handled myself.  Almost all had been told that they would never graduate and might as  well get their GED or just drop out completely.  They were all sure to answer their past critics: I proved you wrong.  The joy, the tears and overwhelmingly positive electricity in the room was just amazing.

Perhaps it sounds cliche, but this was the kind of event that reminds me why I do what I do.  The twenty survivors on that stage were the embodiment of everything I've tried to help make possible over the years.  As with all of my former students, it is I who should be thanking them.  I learned more about myself, this profession, and the human spirit than I ever could have learned otherwise.  To all of my kids out there: thank you!

Monday, June 21, 2010

20 Places for Teachers to Build Their Network Online

The summer break is a great time for teachers to network with colleagues, administrators, and other education professionals. If you'd like to begin building your network but aren't sure how to go about it, the following sites will give you somewhere to start.

Partners in Learning Network - Partners in Learning Network is a global community of more than one million teachers from nearly 60 different countries. Members can create or join online communities and participate in discussions. Other features include lesson plan sharing, free tools and learning programs, and education articles.

TeachersRecess - This social network and file sharing community allows teachers to chat online, share lesson plans, and publish their own personal blog. Members can also use the site to buy and sell teaching supplies and classroom materials online.

Edutopia - The Edutopia community welcomes teachers as well as administrators, librarians, policymakers, parents, and other people interested in discussing and improving education. The community is split into groups with various interests. Members can join a current group or request that Edutopia create a new group for a topic that is not being covered.

TeachAde - This popular social networking website provides a place for classroom teachers to discuss important issues and share resources online. Members can collaborate in groups or share their thoughts through TeachAde blogs.

TeacherLingo - Teacher Lingo is an online education community that welcomes teachers of all levels. Site features include message boards, blogs, a teacher directory, and a lesson plan directory.

The Apple - The Apple is known as the place where "teachers meet and learn." Members can explore teaching careers, network with other professionals, and read articles written by education experts. The site also offers a place to search for and share lesson plans.

All Teacher Boards - Scholastic provides a message board for teachers (and another for students). The board offers a place for teachers to exchange ideas and a separate space especially for new teachers.

Thinkfinity - The Verizon Foundation's Thinkfinity Community is a place for teachers and other education professionals to find new friends and network with colleagues. Members can participate in discussions and join groups of teachers with similar interests.

PBS Teachers - PBS Teachers welcomes preK-12 educators who want to search for classroom resources and discuss teaching strategies, professional development, and other topics online.

Applebatch - This network for K-12 educators provides a space for teachers, administrators, and other education professionals to meet and connect online. Applebatch also offers a job search engine and information about job fairs and other events.

We the Teachers - We the Teachers caters to educators who want to network and share lesson plans online. The site also offers a directory of education apps and mini-communities for teachers who want to connect with others who have similar interests.

The Teacher's Forum - This free forum from provides a place for teachers to chat, share resources, discuss recent education news, and advertise supplies for sale.

Educate Interactive - Educate Interactive's Teacher Exchange is a collaborative online module for teachers who want to share ideas and resources. Offerings include a community, forum, blogs, and an interactive lesson database.

T2T Network - This social/professional network welcomes K-university level teachers. Members can chat online, exchange resources, or look for new career opportunities.

TeachStreet - TeachStreet isn't designed to be a place for teachers to network with one another, but it is a good site for teachers who want to offer their services or introduce themselves to potential students. The site used to be free but now charges a small fee for teachers who want list classes, events, and workshops.

The Global Education Collaborative - The Global Education Collaborative is a Ning network for teachers and students who are interested in discussing global education. Members can chat with each other, collaborate on projects, and learn more about upcoming education events.

Classroom 2.0 - Classroom 2.0 is a popular education-related Ning for teachers and other education professionals who are interested in using social media and web 2.0 tools in classrooms. Members number in the tens of thousands and include teachers from all over the world.

The International School Teacher - This Ning was created specifically for international teachers who want to discuss and share their experiences teaching abroad. Features include forums, videos, photos, and more.

Meetup - Meetup isn't exclusively for educators or online networking, but it is a good place to organize a local group or learn about current groups that meet in your area.

Elgg - If all of the other sites on this list fail you, you could always start your own social network with Elgg. This open source program can be used to create a fully-featured social network with blogging and microblogging capabilities.

Guest post from education writer Karen Schweitzer. Karen is the Guide to Business School. She also writes about pharmacy technician certification for

Friday, June 18, 2010

You Are Invited, Championship Teaching, Nice Graphs & More

The Personal Invitation [f(t)] - Ms. Nowak reminds us of the power of knowing your students and of one-on-one conversations.

Video in the Classroom Mini-Carnival #5 [Creating Lifelong Learners] - Great examples and inspiration here.

1 Plus and 1 Delta on Teach Like a Champion [ABDCE] - A Washington, D.C. TFA corps member thoughtfully dives into Doug Lemov's Teach Like a Champion and how to make its ideas work in schools without the strong culture of a KIPP, Achievement First or other high-performing charter school.

How to make a nice graph for tests and such [Math Teacher Mambo] - Ms. Cookie breaks it down for us.

The GOOD Guide to Education Innovation [GOOD] - The magazine, well worth the subscription for their education articles alone, focuses on ten innovative ideas changing the educational landscape.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

New Teacher Appreciation Song [Video]

As Brian Asselin, the creator of this told me via email: "I have been blessed in my life to have had so many teachers inspire me to be the best that I can be. A couple weeks ago I graduated from teachers college and I felt compelled to tell every teacher I come across "thank you" for making a difference."

We appreciate it, Brian.

Monday, June 14, 2010

A Lifetime in Six Words? Possible.

Unlocking the innate creativity within people is not always as difficult as you think. One intriguing example is the idea of the six word story, where the author must fit a complete story within a mere six words. The idea, which supposedly originated with Ernest Hemingway, lives on in the form of a Twitter meme and a recent book entitled Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous & Obscure.

The latter is fascinating because each writer attempts to capture an entire lifetime in less words than the book's own title. What surprised me is the amount of memoirs that relate to learning or education. It gave me a lot to think about, and I think you'll agree. Here's a sampling:
Grading AP essays, I crave Tolstoy. -Carinna Tarvin

Learned reading, writing, forgot arithmetic. -Elizabeth Rose Gruner

Timid teacher takes 'tude from tykes. -Kathy Gates

Students laughed appreciatively. The professor relaxed. -Laurie Hensley

I colored outside of the lines. -Jacob Thomas

All of my students hate me. -Sharon Fishfeld

Educated too much, lived too little. -Dan Vance

My second grade teacher was right. -Janelle Brown

Learned. Forgot. Better off relearning anyway. -Brian DeLeeuw

High school dropout but college graduate. -Mary Beth Nalin

Used to add. Now I subtract. -Melissa Gorelick
I can't recommend the book enough. In a way, it's sort of a purely literary PostSecret. I'd love to hear from teachers who used this as a class project. Actually, I'd love to read your own six word memoir. Share both in the comments.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Zombie Calculators, Drunken Monkeys & More

75 Inspirational, Educational Quotes for the Classroom - I know many teachers like to regularly post a quote like this for their students, so put this in your toolbox for next year.

Drunken monkeys reveal how binge-drinking harms the adolescent brain [Not Exactly Rocket Science] - Pass along to your students, especially those about to have big graduation parties!

Zoodles Corrals Kids in a Safe and Educational Browser [Lifehacker]

Are Teachers Hand-cuffed by Flawed Education Research? [GOOD] - Can we blame teachers for everything when the curriculum isn't any good to begin with?

Resurrecting TI Calculators From the Dead [Math Tales from the Spring] - CPR for your TI-83!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Teacher Security Quiz, Top Teacher Blogs & More

Information & Resources for Motivating Students - Good starting point for anyone looking for new and better ideas on motivating students.

Teacher Security Quiz - Do you know how important teachers are to school security?  Do you know what the best practices are for you to help keep your school safe?  Take this quiz to find out!

Top 20 Teacher Blogs - There's a lot of familiar blogs on this list, but quite a few I hadn't heard of before this list.

May 25th Carnival of Homeschooling [Bugs, Knights, and Turkeys in the Yard] - Seriously, how can you not at least visit a blog with a name like that?  Non-homeschoolers: remember that there's much to be learned from all the education going on in the world that doesn't take place in a traditional classroom.  I hope you'll give this carnival (and homeschool sites in general) a try.

Call for Guest Bloggers [So You Want to Teach?] - Joel is looking for first-year teachers specifically, but has left it open for anyone.  This is a high-traffic edublog that you can really get your name out there on.